Dealing with Picky Customers in Decorating

Updated May 8, 2024 | Posted Dec 31, 2019 | Professional insight, Life of a Decorator | 8 comments

Why are some decorating customers life draining runts? Post it notes all over the place, even though we were still only at prep stage. I can deal with that, picking bits as we go along, fair enough, saves doing it at the end. Last day we are there she takes the day off to “work from home” ok, well at least she can check it over before we go. We finish, all good, takes the key back and says she will pay later.

We heard nothing from them until this morning when I get a few random pics of little bits they aren’t happy with. There wasn’t even a message to say what the problem is! So, I respond by saying “we will be back Monday morning to do those bits”. Then he messages and says, “overall, we are quite happy with the finish, but not quite the finish we wanted!!” We spent 2 faffing days filling, sanding and preparing, the place was a sh1thole!

When we had initially finished, I walked out of there actually pleased with the job. We worked all last weekend as they were away, and we could get all the mess and prep done whilst they weren’t around. It’s having to deal with picky customers like these that make me want to Jack this sh1t in!

I know I’m only explaining things from my point of view, but there’s a lot of work involved in decorating. The customer ultimately has the choice over colour and paint brands. I do guide them where I can towards Tikkurila, or some of my other preferred makes. There is only so much I can do when the place is a right state to begin with.

Happy f*****g weekend!


Just tell them nothing is perfect! Customers make me laugh sometimes. They will let a chippy leave gaps in skirting boards and a plasterer to leave with the walls not looking flat, but when a decorator comes in, they pick up on the smallest bits. 9 times out of 10 is not your fault because another trade has not done a very good job.

Rob Ashdown

Professional Painter and Decorator

I know this is going to sound harsh, but the trick is to not let it get to you. “Picky customers” aren’t the issue, it’s the cranks. The ones with unrealistic expectations, or the customers who would pick fault no matter the quality of work.

All you can do is the best you can do. What these people don’t realise is, we take real pride in our decorating work. When someone takes issue with it, it knocks our confidence. Don’t let it. Just do what you need to do to get paid, then never work for them again. You don’t need customers who make your life hard work.

Mike Cupit

Professional Painter and Decorator

Blog written by Matthew Parmenter – Professional Painter and Decorator

Updated May 8, 2024 | Posted Dec 31, 2019 | 8 comments

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Cupit has been in the decorating industry since 2002 and has mostly worked as a Trade Decorator in the domestic sector (peoples’ homes). Self-proclaimed “product geek”, Mike has a passion for paint and decorating tools. Mike now spends most of his time testing paint products and tools, comparing them to similar products on the market, and blogging about the industry in general.


  1. Leslie bao

    You must tell tell the client that if you want a top class finish… all plaster& joinery must be new or in excellent condition… if not you get a redec of your existing plaster/ joinery…we are not magicians.

  2. Peter kirkham

    I ask them before the start and before price is given what results are they hoping for?
    Is it a freshen up or is every indentation to be filled.
    As that way I can price accordingly.

    • Stevie McFarlane

      It’s always the places that look like a crack den before you start that moan when it’s not a palace . Weird. They live in a mess then expect to much especially when there “ on a budget “

      • Samuel

        I can sympathize with you there most clients want a brand new finish on old existing substrates everything top to bottom. So going for low middle or high end price range is wise.

  3. David Phillips

    Agree with Peter.theres 2 types of finish filling every little imperfection or a fresh up especially when it come to a house with about 30 years worth of gloss on can only do so much for the price a customers willing to builds.i have a question on new builds tho.i personally fill the grain in woodwork if poor cuts of wood been used however when I was subbying i got told not to mess about filling in.just fill nail holes in and they got snagged really bad and bloke said I was to put right at my cost

  4. Billy

    Yep I feel for you mate decorators worst job going customers seem to have a totally unrealistic picture how the jobs gonna look they dont want to pay we have to put every other trades work right usually for nowt fuckets ain’t they

  5. Paul

    Had one all new plaster, coving and woodwork all new. First hour there I was bombarded with what you going to do with this questions. Lumpy plaster quite a lot of trowel marks corners al dodgy coving not filled woodwork had more screws and nail holes than a termite mound all top edges at least 3mm off of wall and all joints scribed with a skill saw. So in the end I said get the plasterer and carpenter back to do their own making good then I’ll come back. Pointed out all the issues with the work to be told they had fallen out with the builder and they are not coming back. I packed up and fucked off. A week later they rang again they had got someone else and could I come over and put it right I said I’d take a look no filling caulked with his thumb no rubbing down actually looked worse. I said I could put it right doubled my quote and stipulated that they couldn’t ask me any questions until the end. They agreed to everything last day invited questions snags etc they loved it no snags and a £50 tip. Now been working for them on and off for 15 years.

  6. Jack Wardley

    get this quite. a few times every year doing favours for people on a budget when im not getting what i need and less than what the job should cost and all you get in return is a load of hassel no furniture is moved for you they moan about how long its taken even though its on price anyway if can you do something else do something else other wise you will be grey 20 years prematurely. always wondered why my old college teachers ex self employed jacked it in for teaching.


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